NBA viewing guide: Grizzlies and Spurs collide in conference finals rematch


The Grizzlies and Spurs will square off on Wednesday to headline a loaded NBA slate that also includes the Nets facing the Cavs and the Lakers playing the Warriors.

Six teams gave us a reminder of why we watch NBA basketball on Tuesday night. LeBron James still rules, the Los Angeles Clippers aren't about to be handed anything just because Doc Rivers appeared at their front door, and the Lakers actually played like they like each other.

Wednesday's schedule features 14 games and 24 teams opening their seasons.

The appetizers: Nets vs. Cavaliers

7 p.m. ET, NBATV

The free-spending Nets begin their quest toward contention without Jason Kidd on the bench. But for as many questions as there are about the Nets, the Cleveland Cavaliers have just as many. Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters are a year wiser, and Anderson Varejao is back in the fold.

How close is Andrew Bynum to returning? Bynum has practiced five-on-five but his status is still murky after not appearing in an NBA game for more than a year.


Nevertheless, the Cavs see themselves as a playoff contender. They can start off on the right foot in Wednesday's appetizer.

Celtics vs. Raptors

7 p.m. ET

The Raptors are working under new leadership with a talented enough team where they might be thinking playoffs, especially with a starting lineup that statistically stacks up as one of the best in the league. Boston Celtics fans are being a bit more honest about the situation, knowing they might need to learn how to enjoy the process, as Celtics Blog's Jeff Clark notes.

Who is the real Jonas? Toronto liked what it saw from center Jonas Valanciunas this summer, but the real proof in the pudding could come against a Celtics team without much size in the frontcourt, save for the currently mysterious Vitor Faverani.

The main course: Grizzlies vs. Spurs

8:30 p.m. ET

Analogy time: The Heat are to the Spurs as the Spurs are to the ____. The answer is the Grizzlies. OK, so San Antonio's NBA Finals Game 6 will stick in their minds a bit more painfully than Memphis' memories of its loss to the Spurs in the Western Conference finals. Nevertheless, the deal is that both teams have a lot to prove. The Spurs have done nothing but talk about the championship slipping out of their hands, but the Grizzlies have a good deal to prove on their own under first-year coach Dave Joerger.

And if anything, ol' man Duncan is happy to play for something real.

How does Marco Belinelli fit in? San Antonio's roster turnover was nearly nil, but the loss of Gary Neal led to the addition of Marco Belinelli, who brings a new wrinkle to the bench unit.

Side dishes: Wizards vs. Pistons

7:30 p.m. ET

Welcome to 2013, where the Wizards and Pistons have seemingly gotten out of the cellar and could each challenge for a playoff berth.

How quickly can Marcin Gortat assimilate to the Washington roster? This game provides interesting matchups to watch across the board, and the big men will certainly be key. Washington's trade with the Suns gives them an imposing lineup of Gortat and Nene, and how they fare against the talented young duo of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe will be telling. That said, Gortat is new to the roster so any success against Detroit simply means good things are to come.

Bucks vs. Knicks

7:30 p.m. ET

Milwaukee also believes it'll be in the playoff conversation. Time will tell. But how about that young rookie from Greece whose name nobody can spell (we can't even agree upon a spelling)? Giannis Antetokounmpo will be the most-watched rookie as the most unique newcomer to the league. If only we could spell it. CTRL-C, CTRL V all day.

What is the Bargs factor? Most every other upper-tier Eastern Conference squad made significant improvements this summer, but the Knicks didn't quite keep pace despite a busy offseason that included trading for Andrea Bargnani. Will he make a difference, whether it be coming off the bench or starting?

Posting and Toasting: More on the Knicks

Bobcats vs. Rockets

8 p.m. ET

Well, the Charlotte Bobcats acquired Al Jefferson this offseason to get better or something. He will have to somehow score in the paint against Dwight Howard and Omer AsikGood luck dealing with this, Big Al.

How does Patrick Beverley look as a starter? Rockets coach Kevin McHale has reportedly decided to start last year's midseason acquisition, Patrick Beverley, over Jeremy Lin. How the point guard position plays out as a whole will be the sub-story behind the Howard-Asik dynamic.

Pacers vs. Pelicans

8 p.m. ET

Indiana opens the year with a back-to-back and heads to New Orleans following a win against the Orlando Magic on Tuesday.

Can the Pelicans break the game open? New Orleans would love to get in the open court with its trio of Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans. Of course, the Pacers are going to play with an apprehensive tempo to stop that. If that happens, New Orleans must find a way to score in the halfcourt. Forward Anthony Davis could make a statement by playing well against an Indiana team that combined for 18 blocked shots last night.

Magic vs. Timberwolves

8 p.m. ET

Orlando's young frontcourt is coming off a beating against the Pacers, and it doesn't get easier against another physical frontcourt of Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic.

Is this the start of something for the T-Wolves? It's not just about the health issues. Minnesota has rebounding, interior scoring, a lead point guard, and now some gunners on the wings for 2013-14. The additions of Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer could be the difference for the T-Wolves to make the leap into the Western Conference playoff picture.

Hawks vs. Mavericks

8 p.m. ET

Two revamped teams from separate conferences think their offseasons could lead to the playoffs.

Who plays to their strengths better? Both teams have identities still in the molding process, but the contrast between them could make it pretty clear whose further along in terms of building chemistry.

Nuggets vs. Kings

10 p.m. ET

If you like scoring, then you might want to tune in.

What's going on with the center matchup? Two of the NBA's biggest knuckleheads square off. Denver's JaVale McGee has a bigger role this year, and the Kings' DeMarcus Cousins has a new contract. It's not so much that who wins this matchup will determine the game -- it's just pure entertainment value.

Pass it along: Heat vs. 76ers

7 p.m. ET

It's probably easier to argue that the Philadelphia 76ers are the NBAs worst team rather than the two-time defending champion Miami Heat are the best. That says enough about this game.

What's the over/under on LeBron James' minutes? To follow up, such potential for a blowout means the Heat could delve deep into the bench. The Roger Mason Jr. and Michael Beasley watch is on.

Thunder vs. Jazz

9 p.m. ET

Kevin Durant begins a season where he'll try to put less pressure on himself to win every game with every play. Meanwhile, the Jazz will be finding out just how good their young core can be.

Who takes the lead for Utah? We know what to expect of the Thunder, but it's unclear which of the Jazz players will take it upon themselves to take the fight back at Oklahoma City. The Jazz would like to see Gordon Hayward take that upon himself, especially with a superstar in Durant coming back at him.

Trail Blazers vs. Suns

10 p.m. ET

Perhaps this is Phoenix's chance to surprise. Unlike the 76ers, the Suns have a relatively decent chance at becoming a winning squad in the 2013-14 season, if only for a few days.

How bad will the Suns' interior defense be? Phoenix is without Markieff Morris because of his stray elbow connecting with Serge Ibaka's face in the preseason. Still, the interior defense will be led by an out-of-shape Channing Frye, who missed all of last season with a heart issue, and Miles Plumlee, who played 55 total minutes for Indiana last season. LaMarcus Aldridge will be smiling.

Dessert: Lakers vs. Warriors

10:30 p.m. ET, NBATV

To close the long NBA schedule on Wednesday, the Lakers will find out quite quickly if their magic in a season-opening win against the Clippers was a fluke.

Can the three-point barrage continue? Golden State was not only an exceptional three-point shooting team last season. The Warriors were in the top seven in the NBA by allowing opponents to hit just 34.7 percent from the field. Los Angeles shot 14-for-29 against their Los Angeles rivals on Tuesday, and it should be interesting to see what the attack looks like if Golden State runs the Lakers off the three-point line. Could this end poorly?


More from SB Nation NBA:

Longform: How the Pistons became a team apart from Detroit

David Roth: NBA players, the last and tallest fans of HBO's "Entourage"

The Hook: Clippers' defensive woes on full display

The King's Revolution: How things changed since LeBron made The Decision

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